Friday, 7 October 2011

Preparing For Public Speaking Perfection

It does not take a genius to be aware that, when it comes to the delivery of perfect presentations, the amount of time you spend preparing and practicing has a dramatic impact on your end results.  You should never be tempted to substitute substance for style.  Yet, whilst content is king, delivery that is either too laboured or too fluffy results in the most brilliant of messages being lost on audiences.

So, start with a study of content first.  Research your subject matter on the internet.  Read books and industry publications.  Take note if your subject matter is currently in the news, and consider if your presentations can be given directly relevant topical slants.  It is also good to talk, so speak with people who are authorities on your subject matter, and also people who are not.  Different angles give you a rounded overview that influences your own unique standpoint.

With key content under your belt, you have not yet won the war, but can momentarily rest on the laurels of having a major battle in the bag.  Your best organisational game face now needs to emerge in order for you to pre plan a script that flows logically and naturally.  Many experienced speakers build their presentations upon initial frameworks of 15% introduction, 70% main body and 15% summary, although there are no specifically dictated hard and fast rules.

Undertake practice runs of your presentations, to yourself, a colleague, a friend or your cat.  Tape record or video yourself when practicing your presentations.  Be open to taking constructive criticism on board and act as your own toughest critic, identifying and addressing your own strong and weak points when listening to and watching yourself back.

When your big day dawns, stay calm at all costs.  It is, admittedly, easier said than done.  Yet you can go some way to remaining grounded before the delivery of your presentations with plenty of deep breaths and a steady intake of water.  Dress comfortably but formally.  Smart suits are preferable for both male and female presenters, always accompanied by ties for men and minimal accessories and jewellery for women.

When taking to your stage, engage, engage, engage!  Adopt a natural and open manner, let your energy and enthusiasm shine through infectiously and never forget to smile.  Involving audiences at the receiving ends of your presentations from the get go is essential to creating satisfactory working partnerships between you and them.  You can build instant rapport by posing searching questions to capture their attention, a public speaking ploy regularly implemented by the pros. 

Do not speak in an uncharacteristic or unnatural way.  This will only give your presentations – and yourself – airs of insincerity.  Get in to a groove that is right for you, which should be neither too fast paced nor too slow moving.  By all means harness appropriate humour.  Self deprecation can be disarmingly endearing, so a laugh at your own expense is perfectly acceptable during presentations.  Yet do avoid laughing at the expense of audience members.

Stick with what you intrinsically understand and avoid what you do not.  Throwing in ‘big talk, for the sake of trying to sound clever is a no go area.  Those listening to your presentations may have genuine questions that you are foolishly unable to answer.  With job almost done, redress queries raised during your closing summary with care, patience and tact. 

Always bear in mind that the due diligence you invest in your preparation for public speaking holds they key to leaving favourable lasting impressions long after your final thank you has been delivered.